Archive | December, 1997


2:30 am
December 2, 1997
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Reinventing The Wheel

A new look at the maintenance work management process

The Wheel - Work Management ProcessThe goal of work management is lowest cost reliability, which has two parts: equipment reliability and human reliability. Equipment reliability is the final result–where the bottom line is improved by increased production output and lower operating and maintenance costs. Human reliability is the set of activities that leads to those results. Success is measured in terms of equipment reliability, but it is human reliability that is actually managed.

The wheel is the story of work management, not maintenance. Many departments work together to create reliability; the maintenance department is just one of them. Production, engineering, materials, and administration departments are all vital members of the work management team. The wheel needs to be reinvented to help the team understand its role in the process and the goal of the process as a whole.

The pain zone
Work management begins with work identification. Suddenly an alarm is raised! Production (or safety or the environment) is threatened and an emergency is declared. The pain zone hurts because it costs money. Production output is lost. Labor and materials that could have been used on other jobs are lost.

The ability to declare an emergency is a big hammer for the production department. The problem with having a big hammer is that everything starts to look like a nail. Emergencies are declared for pet equipment, for spare equipment, or just to make production feel safe. A big red nail on the wheel signifies the pain zone.

In terms of human reliability, the pain zone hurts for two reasons. First, the schedule is interrupted. Second, the production department makes this decision alone. When the production department is forced to decide by itself that work needs to be done, the advantage of joint prioritization is lost Decisions are not made in the best interest of the whole plant.

Joint prioritization
The large crescent on the right side of the wheel illustrates that teamwork must be an underlying theme of the way work is planned, scheduled, and accomplished. It also points out the difference between priorities and prioritization. Priority is an initial code for work urgency, while prioritization is the process of deciding the actual order in which work will be done.

In the work identification step, an initial priority identifies the urgency of the work. The value of the priority code is to separate emergencies from nonemergencies. Though a priority code can help organize work in the backlog, it does not determine the actual order in which nonemergency work will be performed.

Once work passes through the pain zone and into the backlog, the process of joint prioritization begins, and it does not end until the work is accomplished. Prioritization takes into account the impact the job has on output and the availability of labor, materials, and equipment to do the job.

Joint prioritization means that departments make decisions together. Production, maintenance, and engineering departments should meet weekly to decide the order in which jobs will be done. Decisions should be documented in published schedules. Then, schedules should be kept by tagging out equipment on time, completing a design for a scheduled job on time, or starting jobs on time and doing them well so they do not require rework. Joint prioritization goes all the way through the work accomplishment step because the real importance of a particular job is determined by when the job actually gets done.

Productivity zone
Money is made in the productivity zone. Planning and scheduling are the primary sources of productivity in the work management process. They are tightly linked but entirely separate. Planning answers the “what” and “how” about a job; scheduling answers the “who” and “when.” Jointly answering these questions in advance provides a powerful machine for doing exactly the right work in exactly the right way at exactly the right time.

Productivity means that:

  • Jobs are worked according to schedule
  • Crafts and foremen do not have to chase parts or prints
  • Production equipment is tagged out and cleaned for maintenance workers
  • Multiple crafts on a single job are sequenced and coordinated
  • Cranes, scaffolding, and transportation are ready when needed
  • Job steps and permits are part of the work order package.

Productivity is the result of good planning and scheduling. The planning half of the productivity zone anticipates common obstacles to work accomplishment. Key activities include job scoping and assuring parts availability. The scheduling half of the productivity zone smoothly combines prioritized jobs and resources such as crafts, extra shifts, permits, and access to production equipment. Key activities include labor availability forecasting and long-range and daily scheduling.

The best way to define productivity is doing exactly the right work in exactly the right way at exactly the right time:

  • Choosing jobs that have the biggest impact on reliability in the long run will lead to “exactly the right work” being accomplished.
  • Working from a plan and allowing time to do quality work rather than slapping on Band-Aids is the way to do work “exactly the right way.”
  • Matching labor and equipment availability, and scheduling the job just when the equipment condition or performance will be affected, will result in doing work at “exactly the right time.”

Productivity is often associated with the work accomplishment step, where the job is actually done. But the amount of productivity gained in that step is small compared to planning and scheduling. Some time is lost due to late starts, early quits, poor training, or incompetence. But most lost time is due to job obstacles such as missing parts or unavailable production equipment.

Daily schedule compliance Daily schedule compliance, the most important measure in work management, is the percent of actual labor hours devoted to scheduled work. Complying with the daily schedule is the payoff for being good at all the steps on the wheel. If the steps are done well, daily schedule compliance must improve. Plus, if daily schedule compliance improves, then exactly the right work is being done in exactly the right way at exactly the right time, and that generates productivity, reliability, and dollars for the bottom line.

Collect and use data
The black hole is where data goes to die. Craftsmen provide data that will make jobs easier to plan or execute, then never see it again. They write parts lists, readings, or equipment condition notes on the current work order, but do not see them print out on the next work order. Finally they give up and provide perfunctory data or no data at all.

Climbing out of the black hole requires using data to measure performance and analyze root cause, showing the results to crafts and foremen, or making sure relevant history prints out on the next work order. When data is visibly and productively used, crafts will provide it willingly.

Proactivity zone
Going out and finding work instead of waiting for it to find you is proactive. Any technique to identify work early is useful whether it is technical (for example, vibration analysis) or human (work history analysis). This connects the last step on the wheel with the first step and leads to continuous improvement.

Proactive programs such as preventive and predictive maintenance, condition-based maintenance, reliability-centered maintenance, and total productive maintenance help identify work early and perform work just in time. The results of being proactive are:

  • Preventive maintenance frequencies make sense
  • PMs are done on critical equipment, not all equipment
  • Many predictive maintenance techniques are used–especially vibration, lube oil analysis, and thermography
  • Predictive maintenance procedures successfully predict failures just prior to occurrence
  • Critical systems are identified first and critical equipment follows from that
  • Work is done according to actual equipment condition, not because of calendar or run time
  • Operators routinely perform minor maintenance.

The proactivity zone is about avoidance rather than repair. In the proactivity zone, the cycle of emergencies is broken. In its place is a cycle of failure prevention. Proactive maintenance skips the pain zone, starts prioritizing jointly, and taps the power of the productivity zone.

Problem solving
The back half of the wheel is designed to solve problems. Information is discovered in the work accomplishment step, recorded in the documentation step, and used in the analysis and measurement step.

The second crescent is a reminder that the wheel needs the lubrication of problem solving to turn fast and smoothly. It also says that problem solving makes the wheel solid. If problems are not solved, the wheel disintegrates. Each step of the wheel is connected with the next. Each zone is dependent on all the others. The entire work management process must be strong at every step and in every zone to achieve lowest cost reliability.

Work culture
The work management process is surrounded by an organization’s culture. Culture is pervasive and powerful; it influences every action and every decision. It exists whether management actively cultivates it or not.

Culture is people. It is the person making the decision and the people taken into consideration as the decision is made. People make decisions for technical reasons (the process) and for personal reasons (the culture).

Process and culture are equally strong. If they are not aligned, they pull people in different directions. People want to do the right thing, but are confronted with limitations. Do not force them to decide between process and culture–the company will always lose.

  • When process and culture are not aligned, people are:
  • Torn, and they compromise their decisions
  • Impeded, and they have to take the long way around
  • Blocked, and they stop and wait.

Each of these interferes with work management. The static and noise of culture starts to obscure the process picture. Eventually the interference becomes so strong that the process is barely visible. Technical reasons for decisions are lost and decisions are made for personal reasons. That is not good for work management, for management credibility, or for the business as a whole because this same culture affects all the processes in the business.

If the work management process is done well, lower cost reliability can be achieved, but only by aligning process and culture. MT

Michael Stephens is a principal with Reliability Management Group, a maintenance and management consulting firm, 151 W. Burnsville Pkwy., Suite 224, Minneapolis, MN 55337; (612) 882-8122.

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1:32 am
December 2, 1997
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Condition-Based Maintenance Program Shows Results

Pending deregulation of the electric utility industry presents new challenges for companies. Southern Company, originally a single source provider, saw the trend toward competition and decided to take a proactive stance.

Its goal is to be the most reliable low-cost producer. “The keys to achieving a competitive advantage are reliability and lower capital and operatingmaintenance costs,” says Ed Holland, vice president of generation and transmission for Gulf Power. Randy Jones, senior engineer, explains, “We strive to use the lowest-cost equipment to satisfy demand at all times. All our plants must be as reliable as possible so that we have the flexibility to operate the plants that satisfy demand at the lowest possible cost. We needed the ability to monitor equipment, determine repair needs in advance and then plan maintenance only when needed and preferably when demand for electricity is low.”

Southern Company supplies energy to a 120,000 sq mi service territory spanning most of Georgia and Alabama, southeastern Mississippi, and the panhandle region of Florida. It is the parent firm of five electric utilities–Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, and Savannah Electric.

Around 1991, Southern Company deployed a task force to look at how it conducted business and to compare the company with the best practices of other utilities and industries. The task force identified predictive maintenance as one of its top four priorities. Several plants quickly embraced the technology as a means to achieve their goals. Based on this positive response and to realize the maximum benefits, the task force sought a unified approach to predictive maintenance. It recommended standards for the company that have resulted in significant savings and benefits for each plant and for the company as a whole.

As a result of the recommendations, Southern Company established a two-year pilot program to apply predictive maintenance best practices, investigate technologies, and develop cost-effective implementation approaches. The group selected the Entek IRD Emonitor for Windows and Motormonitor software as company standards for vibration analysis and motor current signature analysis.

Company-wide monitoring
Today, Southern Company uses the software at 20 sites, 17 of which are connected via a wide area network. Jones adds, “At some sites, we also interface our oil analysis data into the database so that we can analyze all condition-based monitoring information for a piece of equipment on one screen. We get a complete picture of equipment performance, so that we can diagnose negative trends and potential problems.

Individual Plant Results From Condition-Based Maintenance
  • $1 million savings and avoided costs across five-site pilot program
  • Reduced planned outage maintenance hours 54 percent
  • Reduced costs of oil changes by$70,000 in 6 months
  • Saved over $400,000 in maintenance deferrals and avoided failures in first year of condition-based program
  • Vibration analysis saved $4,000 in annual electric charges for one 200 HP service water pump
  • Reduced system costs by using a wide area network implementation
  • Reduced start-up and training costs
  • Improved communication and equipment trouble shooting across plants

The wide area network has also allowed Southern Company to implement its condition-based monitoring program effectively. “We have implemented 20 sites for about the cost of four stand-alone plants,” estimates Jones. ìNot only do we get the benefits of integrating all sites which facilitates communication, but we also reduce our systems costs significantly.

According to Holland, “The general impact of condition-based maintenance is that it makes us more effective at identifying and planning required maintenance.” Jones adds, “In slightly more than one year, potential savings and avoided costs of about $1 million resulted from deferring planned maintenance on healthy machines and from identifying problems in time to schedule repairs and avoid equipment failures.

Eliminating preventive maintenance
Condition-based maintenance has had a significant impact on our philosophy toward preventive maintenance,” says Holland. “In areas where we have implemented condition-based maintenance, we have virtually eliminated the need for time-based maintenance.” Jones continues, “Instead, we collect vibration and motor current signature data, take oil samples, perform infrared scans, record bearing temperatures and other operating parameters, and make a visual inspection. If the equipment is running fine, then we don’t perform any work. If a problem is detected, we plan and schedule the required maintenance. This saves us a lot of money and time, as it allows us to plan required maintenance only as it is needed.”

For example, time-based preventive maintenance has been eliminated for major plant fans. Technicians now rely on vibration, oil, motor current, and temperature analysis techniques to determine which gearboxes and motors to change. In one planned plant outage, this saved 340 man-hours because fans did not have to be individually tested because of condition-based monitoring. Jones states, “That’s a tremendous savings in man-hours and wear and tear on perfectly good bearings compared to our traditional time-based processes.”

Reduced costs, improved reliability
Predictions of a more competitive environment have forced the company to reduce costs and personnel. Condition-based maintenance processes allow the company to run more effectively and to use the work force in other areas of importance. According to Jones, “In one of our plants, staffing levels have been reduced by 30 percent in five years. We are performing the same amount of work, if not more, but we are able to do it with fewer people. These reductions are fairly typical for many of our plants.”

Jones cites a few examples of where condition-based maintenance has paid off:

  • Oil changes reduced. At a single plant, $70,000 has been saved on oil changes in 6 months. All changes are now performed based on the condition of the lubricant and the machine. Oil analysis is performed onsite using a desktop analyzer for quick and accurate results.
  • Rapid return on investment. During its first year of operation, the predictive maintenance team at one plant documented more than $400,000 in maintenance deferrals and failure avoidance. This was slightly more than the salaries and overhead for the predictive maintenance team personnel, as well as the program start-up costs of analyzers, hardware, software, and computers. Future benefits are expected to be even greater.
  • Equipment efficiency improved. Following an upward trend in axial vibration, a service water pump alignment was checked. Laser alignment took less than 1.5 hours. Vibration was reduced, equipment operation was improved, and electrical requirements of the motor were reduced, resulting in annual station electrical savings of $4,000.

Improved communication
Jones says, “While each plant has implemented its predictive maintenance program in the way that works best for it, the cooperation between plants allows our predictive maintenance processes to be successful in a way that we don’t think would have been possible otherwise. We have seen benefits through the efficient use and sharing of company resources to reduce costs and increase effectiveness. The idea is if one part of our company knows something that will make us more effective, then every part should know.

“Since we can easily share information between locations, it is very simple to set up a new machine if there is a similar machine at another plant. We have also found it useful for two or more people at different company locations to be able to work together in solving a difficult problem. With the network installation, technicians from various plants can look at the same data as they discuss possible causes and solutions over the telephone.”

In addition, information sharing has resulted in the acceleration of implementations, as well as formal standards based on what is working well at other locations. Another benefit of unified efforts is effective training. “Since most locations are using common software, hardware, and processes, we have enough interest to host in-house training courses on many predictive maintenance subjects,” notes Jones. “We tailor the classes to our issues and topics and also save money on travel and expenses.”

The predictive maintenance efforts at Southern Company are benefiting from the cooperative efforts across the entire company. By approaching predictive maintenance and other areas as one company with common goals, Southern Company is realizing benefits that would have been much harder and more expensive to achieve through individual efforts. MT

Information supplied by Entek IRD, Milford, OH (513) 576-6151.

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12:11 am
December 2, 1997
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My New Favorite Questions

bob_baldwinWhen companies shift their focus from maintenance and repair to reliability and maintainability (R&M), interesting things happen. Maintenance costs go down and equipment availability goes up. The need for capital and spare parts inventory decreases while production capacity and quality increase.

But most companies realize only a small portion of the potential return because they are applying R&M much too late, after the equipment is installed. By that time, 95 percent of the life cycle cost has been determined. R & M must begin, at the beginning, in the conceptual phase, before the equipment is built.

Members of one group are taking a proactive stance and are determined to drive the R & M process upstream into the equipment design process. It is the Maintenance Excellence Roundtable, a small group of maintenance professionals from Allied Signal, Alumax of South Carolina, Baxter Healthcare, Dofasco, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, Exxon Chemical, Ford, Novartis Crop Protection, Sunoco, U.S. Postal Service, and this magazine. The group meets annually at a member’s plant to discuss maintenance issues. This year’s meeting was hosted in November by Sunoco at its Sarnia, Ont., refinery.

A full afternoon of the group’s two-day conference program was devoted to reliability in design. Four members made presentations on their initiatives in this area, followed by an open discussion on the subject.

I thought one of the most helpful nuggets of R&M wisdom was voiced during the discussion by Hal Raffa of Ford’s corporate office for manufacturing equipment reliability and maintainability (and a major contributor to Reliability and Maintainability Guideline for Manufacturing Machinery and Equipment published by the Society of Automotive Engineers).

Raffa indicated that much can be learned about a potential supplier by simply asking its representatives to explain their reliability and maintainability process, and then following up with questions about the resulting improvements to the equipment.

When you ask this question, you may not get the answers you deserve, but you will be sending a message to the vendor that your company would rather produce product than maintain equipment.

I know I have some new questions for the next press conference I attend. I can hardly wait. MT

Thanks for stopping by,


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12:08 am
December 2, 1997
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Breakthrough Strategy for Changing Behaviors

“You mean we’re going to have to work on the equipment before it breaks down?” That’s what one experienced mechanic asked after he heard about his company’s new proactive approach to maintenance. His statement points to the crux of one of the biggest challenges we face when moving from a reactive maintenance work culture to one that emphasizes equipment and process reliability. In many cases we are challenging the maintenance mindsets of the people at all levels in the organization. So, how do you go about changing the work culture?

The core concept that works for maintenance and manufacturing in North America is to focus on results, and change the culture along the way. One book that has served as a guide is The Breakthrough Strategy (Robert Shaffer; Harper Business, 1988). It is not a new book, nor one that addresses maintenance and reliability, but the approaches Mr. Shaffer describes are continually validated in many other writings and by other researchers and authors. Here are the key points of the Breakthrough Strategy as applied to maintenance and manufacturing improvement:

  • Top management must orchestrate the change and lead the way. It must establish the context and the challenge by setting increasingly tougher demands to meet the needs of the business and the needs of the people. The new directions should be tested through strategic projects. Make sure technology supports the desired improvements, and avoid becoming a slave of technology. Orchestrate the total movement process. Don’t just make pronouncements, then back away. Get involved, listen, and pay attention.
  • Identify “zest factors” to help accelerate the new ideas. Is there a true sense of urgency? A challenge to meet? Is there an opportunity for a clear and near success? Can the change be exciting, novel, like a game? Don’t expect people to get engaged with an idea just because top management espouses it. Determine what will truly engage others in the improvement process.
  • Go for results. Immediate successes are essential if people are to increase their confidence and expand their vision of what is possible. Nothing speaks louder than actions and results. Look for opportunities to make equipment run better, last longer, and require less tinkering and tending, and ways to make people’s work easier.
  • Form a steering group to leads improvements by focusing on a common goal in a collaborative manner. In union plants be sure to use a joint/management steering group of formal and informal leaders.
  • Design a breakthrough project or pilot activity. Develop a plan to achieve results quickly. Don’t forget these key points: Urgent and compelling goals; short-term first step sub-goals (quick, sustainable hits); measurable bottom line results; ready, willing, and able people; achievable target using available resources and authority; and breakthrough project leaders with accountability.
  • Honestly support the breakthrough project or pilot activity. Incorporate individual accountability, clear-cut decision making, written work plans and progress reviews, structured involvement, demonstration and testing of innovative approaches, and frequent reinforcement and rewards.
  • Form a breakthrough project team. People who have the skills and knowledge to work together “outside the box” are likely to exceed your expectations. But, be sure to define the parameters they must work within. Select people who can become teachers, coaches, or role models of the new way. Then, get out of their way.
  • Put the breakthrough project plan into motion. Avoid getting stuck in the plan-to-plan loop and never quite getting around to action.
  • Expand key learnings from the breakthrough project to related areas and institutionalize the new ideas. Showcase the results and the new behaviors. Indisputable proof goes a long way to changing behaviors.

In the past 7 years a number of total productive maintenance/manufacturing (TPM) culture changes have knowingly, and unknowingly, followed these steps to achieve significant results and change the way the organization thinks about maintenance and reliability. It is rewarding to see what can happen when the talents of the entire organization are tapped by in the breakthrough strategy. Changing the work culture means changing the individual and collective behaviors of people. Go for results in ways that will change behaviors along the way. MT


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8:16 pm
December 1, 1997
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Check Work Management Functions When Selecting a CMMS

Work request, work order management, and work planning and scheduling functions are key checkpoints for selecting and installing a computerized maintenance management system.

The basic reason for purchasing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is to control maintenance costs through effective planning and scheduling and through identifying problem areas for reliability studies. No system will be effective unless a process is developed for planning and scheduling maintenance work. Once established, this process must be followed consistently if significant results are to be expected.

When selecting a CMMS, considerable attention must be devoted to assuring that the software functions can support the desired work planning and scheduling process. The maintenance process and the software must be compatible. The following principles form the foundation of a successful model:

The reliability of process equipment is shared equally by production and maintenance functions.

Production is the owner and operator of the process equipment.

Production is responsible for making equipment available for maintenance, including the availability to complete identified preventive/predictive maintenance work requirements.

Maintenance is the maintainer of the process equipment.

Maintenance is responsible for planning, scheduling and executing requested work by its requested completion date.

The originator has the responsibility to set initial work request priorities

Planning and scheduling
The following definitions of tasks and responsibilities should be understood by all parties.

Maintenance is responsible for planning, scheduling, and executing all viable maintenance work requests within their required completion dates. This work will include all predictive and preventive maintenance tasks and corrective work approved by production, maintenance, and engineering.

Planning is the identification of needed resources and the order in which the resources are required to complete a requested job in the shortest time at the least cost. Once planned, work orders are placed into the ready work order backlog.

If the work orders, as planned, cannot be completed by their due dates, it is the responsibility of planning to notify the originator.

Scheduling is the assignment of numerous planned jobs into a defined period of time to optimize the use of the resources. In scheduling, available man hours of maintenance personnel are allotted first to identified preventive and predictive maintenance work. The remaining hours in each craft are maintenance hours which can be scheduled against the current backlog.

Maintenance is responsible for notifying production on a regular basis of the current backlog and maintenance hours that are required for scheduled work.

Production is responsible for assisting maintenance in scheduling by identifying when the work can be performed and making the equipment available.

Maintenance is responsible for executing the scheduled work by its completion date. If emergency work requests force displacement of scheduled work, it is the responsibility of production to identify which of its scheduled work will be displaced.

Work request and work flow
A written work request should be used for all maintenance work, whether it is emergency or planned, to identify the work to be performed, list safety requirements, provide planning and scheduling information for the work order system, and provide system information and documentation. The documentation should identify the person who performed the work, the duration of the work, worker comments and repair methods, and production’s acceptance of work performed.

The CMMS should contain appropriate functions to handle work requests effectively.

Work order planning
Planning is defined as “developing a plan or scheme.” In the maintenance job planning process, one must ask what, who, and how, as identified by the following steps:

1. What work is to be done to complete the job?

2. How will the work be performed?

3. Who will perform the work?

4. What resources are needed?

5. How long will it take?

The CMMS must support the planning process. The following questions should be asked during the CMMS selection process:

Do you have a job plan worksheet which matches the CMMS for work order planning? An example is illustrated in the section “Job Planning Worksheet.”

Can spare parts be reserved in the inventory system for work order planning?

Can spare parts be looked up from job plan records?

Can purchase requisitions be generated or logged to a job plan?

Does the CMMS have provisions for benchmark job planning? This process stores comparative job plans in a library to be recalled, modified, and attached to specific work orders.

Work order scheduling
Scheduling is defined as “to place on a schedule.” In the scheduling process, one must ask what and when, as expressed in the following questions:

1. What work is to be done to maintain the plant?

2. What is the priority of the work?

3. When is the equipment available?

4. When are the resources available?

What CMMS functions are available to handle the weekly and daily planning and scheduling flow? These will depend somewhat on the size and scope of your organization, number of production areas, distribution of crafts, and number of craft foremen, planners, and staff.

The CMMS should be able to produce the following reports:

Backlog reports by production areas, reporting work order type, days past due, status and/or schedule date

Routines that create preventive maintenance work orders and job plans

Backlog by craft reports

Manpower availability reports.

No matter which CMMS is chosen, it will not be effective unless it complements a well established flow of information among the maintenance staff and between departments. Communications flow issues must be considered, such as notifying production in advance of work to be performed on its equipment, and making sure production has the equipment available for scheduled work.

This communication may require weekly or daily planning and scheduling meetings or it could be informal.

Before implementing a CMMS, you should decide on your communication path and which reports you will use to handle weekly and daily scheduling flow.

A plant commitment to work order planning and scheduling must be enforced. Without a doubt, the single most important ingredient to effective maintenance planning and scheduling is adherence to flow procedures. This includes everyone from plant management to the mechanic performing the work. If these procedures are not established and agreed upon, then you can expect, at best, difficulties, and at worst, failures.

A future article will discuss factors related to building preventive maintenance procedures for a CMMS and implementing the system. MT

Ronald Hemming is president and managing partner and Daniel Davis is a senior maintenance management consultant of Maintenance Technologies International, LLC, a plant maintenance management consulting and engineering firm in Milford, CT, with affiliated offices in Niagara Falls, NY, and Mexico City, Mexico. Hemming may be contacted at (203) 877-3217; Davis at (716) 284-4705.

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